Science communication and four months of learning

A group of four people gathered inside a spacious, bright wood panelled room. Three sit facing away from the camera to face a man who stands with his hands leaning on a table and speaking.

As the days become shorter, the campus hustle and bustle picks up once again with the beginning of the final exam period. My first semester as a graduate student within the lab is coming to an end, and I can’t help but feel immense gratitude for the opportunities I’ve had these past few months. 

It was great to be in courses again after some time off since my undergraduate degree. Notably, I took a Spatial Statistics course this semester, which made me appreciate working in R again. I learned important skills on how to think spatially about data. 

I also took part in a science communication workshop hosted by COMPASS last month, along with lab mates and Raincoast colleagues Kate Field, Bryant DeRoy, and Christina Service. We learned how to communicate our research effectively by completing ‘message boxes’, a tool from Nancy Baron’s Escape from the Ivory Tower book. We also took part in (terrifying) interview scenarios with participating journalists (see Christina Service’s detailed explanation of her experience last year).

However, I took the most away from my visit to Bella Bella in October to celebrate the opening of the Haíɫzaqv λiác̓I (Heiltsuk Bighouse). I’m thankful for the wonderful week filled with celebration, learning, and catching up with good friends. Two months later and my clothes still smell of smoke from the fire that kept us warm throughout the week, a symbol of the enduring character of the experience. 

As 2019 finished off with our annual lab retreat to Port Renfrew, I’m excited for the continued learning opportunities to come in 2020. 

A version of this article was first published at the Raincoast Applied Conservation Science Lab.

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